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.He wasn’t changing his mind now.Tommy put the bent knife in his suit pocket and checked the bottom of his shoes, making sure he hadn’t stepped in the blood.No footprints.Then he turned and walked back in the direction from which he’d come, his pace brisk but not hurried, his chest pounding, heading away from the sound of the siren, away from the sound of laughing women, away from the figure that disappeared deep in the night, and into the longest walk of his life.NINETEENWith each footstep Tommy felt the panic grow inside him.All he could think of was the cop who took his ID earlier.The darkness worked to Tommy’s advantage, but in his mind it was daytime, the sun shining brightly down on the guilt and the panic that surely riddled Tommy’s face.But he ran into no one.Not a soul.When he was one house away from Mark’s, Tommy quickened his pace.He had to get inside, away from the light, away from any eyes peering at him through pulled-back curtains.Safe harbor.Tommy’s fingers shook as he tried to put the key in the front door lock, and only on his third attempt was he finally able to unlock and open the door.He shut the door and leaned against it, halfway slumped to the floor.The house held the dense silence of an empty stadium, the kind of silence that told him he was utterly alone in the world.Tommy suddenly needed light, and he raced around the house, stumbling down unfamiliar halls, flipping on switches.The lights made it worse.He went into the study, where he and Mark earlier that evening had shared cocktails, and poured himself three fingers of Scotch.He put his messenger bag on the hardwood floor and reached into his coat pocket, finding the knife.Tommy turned it over in his hands, examining it for the first time under the glare of the incandescent bulbs overhead.The blood left dull, faded streaks on his hand.Tommy looked up from the blade and realized the curtains were still open, the windows black against the vast night.He dropped the knife on the floor and bounded to the windows, yanking the curtains closed.For all that Tommy had researched murder and murderers in his life, he had no idea what to do.So he simply stood in the study, the weight of time settling upon him, staring at walls that threatened to swallow him.Your phone, he thought.Check your phone.He pulled his phone from his pocket.One missed call from home.He listened to the voicemail.‘Hi, daddy.I just wanted to tell you that I woke up because I had a bad dream, and mommy said I could call you.Well, I love you.Good night.’Evie.Her voice was perfectly monotone and achingly beautiful on the message.He looked at the time stamp of the voicemail.Just about the same time the homeless man was bleeding out near Tommy’s feet.He couldn’t call back.Even if she was still awake, he couldn’t talk to her.Not now.He would lose his mind.Tommy focused on his breathing, in and out.He closed his eyes and closed out everything that was around him.Tommy became an island, if only for a few seconds.In those seconds, a question came to him.Why?Why would Elizabeth put him in danger if she needed him so much? If she needed him to write a bestseller about her, he certainly wasn’t going to do that from prison.Maybe she was lying about needing him.Maybe, to her, this was all part of her fucked-up game, watching Tommy dance like the puppet she had turned him into.She was just enjoying the show.Or …Tommy’s gaze swept vacantly over the rows of books in the study, seeing all of them.Seeing none of them.Or maybe she hadn’t called nine-one-one at all.He considered both possibilities and determined that there wasn’t any evidence to sway him in either direction.Even if she hadn’t called the police there was still a very real and very dead man in that alley, and the knife used to kill him was on the floor near his feet.Tommy looked at the knife.It seemed so harmless there, misshapen.As he gazed upon it, Tommy realized that sleep this night would be unlikely, if not impossible.He needed to get rid of the knife, but he didn’t want to go back outside with it.Not at this hour.He was safe inside this house, and he was certain things would remain that way at least until daylight.He went back to the window and pulled the curtain to the side, staring into the darkness at the rough direction from which he’d come.The alley was, what, maybe ten or twelve blocks away? Too far for him to see the pulsing strobes of emergency vehicle flashers, but the lack of sirens did bring him some comfort.He was certain he would hear those from this distance.So the body hadn’t been discovered yet.Which meant Tommy was safe for now.Except for the man in the alley.The runner.Tommy couldn’t dismiss the potential impact of that person in his near future, but neither could he do anything about it.That person either saw something or he didn’t.He could either identify Tommy or he couldn’t.Faced with the idea of lying awake in bed all night, frantically thinking about the million different ways the next day’s direction would take, Tommy decided to do something else.He would write.Write it all down, just like she said.For better or for worse, he had to press on.Right now.Tonight.He now understood what it felt like, to be fresh in the aftermath of a murder, and he knew this was the essence Elizabeth commanded him to capture.Capture the essence, write the book, be free.Tommy grabbed the tumbler of Scotch and drank from it like a dying soldier sucking on a canteen.Then he sat down at the desk, positioned his hands over the keyboard, and let his fingers lead him where they wanted.Perhaps the words that formed on the screen would reveal the nature of Elizabeth’s mind, arming Tommy with a knowledge he could use to drive her out of his life forever.Or maybe the words would tell him something else entirely.TWENTYDusty sunlight penetrated the curtains of the old office, crawling along the hardwood floor and creeping up the side of the leather couch until finally, as the morning wore on, it found Tommy’s face [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]